‘I’m singing! And not secretly but aloud,’ wrote Anaïs in 1931 (pace all feminists, I cannot possibly call her ‘Nin’; it suggests someone between a nun and a ninny and she was neither of those). ‘I’ve met Henry Miller. I saw a man I like…a man whom life makes drunk.’
If any book ever cried out for illustrations, it is this one. How did the inebriate Henry look at that time? What particular loveliness in his wife June infatuated both him and Anaïs? How did delicate Anaïs captivate the other two? While reading, I was desperate for views of Anaïs’s house at Louveciennes, of Paris in the Thirties, of the clothes, the cars, even the· smallest snapshot of Montmartre or Montparnasse where Henry pursued the artist’s life.
Though he inhabited archetypal bug-infested rooms and decrepit pairs of trousers, Henry Miller, never renowned for efficiency, had defaulted on starving or drinking himself to death. Recognition was a long time in coming but he had reached the age of forty with his high spirits and good nature intact: ‘I’m